The Colorado State Forest Service maps the progression of mountain pine and spruce beetle tree infections each year.
The most recent count showed 3.35 million acres affected by the mountain pine beetle and 924,000 acres attacked by a different bug, the spruce beetle.
Hundreds of thousands of those infested acres are in the state’s so-called “red zones” – the high-fire danger areas primarily along Colorado’s Front Range and up the Interstate 70 corridor, an I-News examination of state maps and data found. State officials use a number of factors to determine what constitutes a red zone, including the convergence of development (primarily homes), the type of vegetation in the area and the slope of the land.
In overlaying the beetle kill and red zone maps, I-News found that dead and dying trees have been prevalent in the state’s biggest forest fires over the past several years.
Read the full story to learn how experts believe the dead trees impact the state’s disastrous wildfires.